LIGHTEN UP

Why is it that almost always the first question a person is asked after meeting someone new is, “What do you do?” or “What kind of work do you do?”

All kinds of hidden agenda are loaded into that question. It seems to be the measure of a person. Do you make a decent living? Are you reasonably well-educated? How far have you advanced in your realm of employment?

A more important question is “What kind of person are you?” But who would dare? That might be too personal, but wouldn’t it be interesting if both men and women answered that question honestly – if they could?

Would you do a double-take if you heard someone say, “I’m wishy-washy. I have a tough time making up my mind, and I change it often?”

The man who starts a home-repair project in his garage but never finishes it, and the woman who enrolls in a class, attends one session but never returns — would they admit that they don’t follow through on what they begin?

How about, “I’m a procrastinator, so I never get around to doing what I’m supposed to do.” This one doesn’t even make a well-intentioned beginning. Or even worse, “I’m controlling with my family because I have no power anywhere else.”

You can tell more about them by the way they respond, rather than by what they say. Do they bluster and brag about how valuable they are in their businesses? Avoid them.

Are they modest and unassuming, turning the questions to your interests? Remember to make it reciprocal.

Then there’s the character who turns everything into a joke. Fun at a party, but after a while that behavior wears thin.

People learn to avoid the suspicious or belligerent guy. His reply is another question, forcefully delivered, such as, “Who wants to know?”

Where’s the exit?

Other people avoid questions about a job, embarrassed because it doesn’t seem much of an accomplishment in the way of providing material things for the family. Maybe these people are more admirable than they think. Perhaps, although they never
have been able to earn much money, they love their families very much. That is success, and has nothing to do with financial prowess. Do they feel that what they do is who they are? Let’s hope not. They don’t have to impress anyone.

So what do you say to people you just met? Heck, I don’t know. Ask what they’re interested in. They’ll tell you, one way or another. It might even be about their jobs — or football, heaven forbid. You just have to take your chances.

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